A Circuit Court judge in Virginia, after hearing jurors tell him they were confused by his instructions and reached the wrong verdict in a recent rape trial, has allowed the jurors to change their verdict -- two days after the trial ended.
The jury Wednesday convicted Carl Douglas Hite of Waynesboro of breaking and entering with intent to commit rape, and it recommended a 10-year prison term.
But the jurors thought they were convicting Hite only of breaking and entering in the nighttime while armed with a deadly weapon, jury foreman Virginia Hahn said Friday. Hite was acquitted on a charge of raping a 22-year-old woman at Afton Mountains Lodge on U.S. Rte. 250 last fall.
Hahn, after reading about the trial in a newspaper, called Judge E. Gerald Tremblay on Thursday night to tell him that the verdict was not what the jury had intended.
So Tremblay called the jurors back to his courtroom Friday -- two days after the verdict -- and polled them again. All 12 jurors voted against their original verdict. "It was apparently not the jury's intention of finding the defendant guilty of burglary with intent to commit rape," Tremblay said.
Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Lindsay Dorrier protested the judge's decision to repoll the jury.
Before dismissing the jury Friday, Tremblay apologized for the mixup. "It's undoubtedly my fault it happened," he told the jury.